This post is sponsored by Good Sam. All opinions are my own.
We love taking advantage of opportunities for working from our RV while in beautiful locations around the US. Some campgrounds and RV parks have electric hookups for an RV, which makes it easier to create an RV office. But we often enjoy boondocking or working while on the road in an RV office, which means we need to have our own RV power sources available to power our RV office space.
We put a lot of effort into thinking about our RV Internet setup. We realized that the first step to creating a reliable internet connection in an RV is making sure all our equipment could be charged when we needed it. This is true, whether we would be accessing the internet using our phone as a hotspot or we chose to have a specific hotspot device.
We personally like to have a variety of RV power options available to us. That way, we can charge our devices while moving or when the RV is stationary. And it’s a relief that our whole setup is covered with Good Sam Roadside Assistance. If anything goes wrong while we’re on the road or even off the grid, we can get fast and capable help wherever we are.
Here are some of the best ways for how to charge electronics while working from an RV office.
How We Set Up Our RV Office
When RVing with kids, the biggest tip for creating an RV office workspace is to be flexible! Having 7 people in the RV means we have to adapt to different situations and setups depending on where we are and the time of day.
When Dan and I are working during the day, we often trade off who is working at what time. If one person needs to take calls or be really focused, the other will take the kids out of the RV on an adventure. The great thing about this is that it encourages us to get out and explore wherever we are!
Dan and I typically set up our RV office in the back of the RV. We have our bedroom back there, and it’s easy to block off the area with the curtain. We can also open the bathroom door to block out more sound. This works well even when the kids are all in the front doing an activity or eating a meal at the RV dining table. This is also a quiet place where we can work and not disturb the kids once they go to sleep.
Since we’re actually working on the road, it’s really nice knowing we have backup with Good Sam Roadside Assistance. So if anything goes wrong with our whole RV power system, we know we’ll be able to quickly get help. This is absolutely necessary for creating an RV office when we need it not just as a recreational space, but a space to meet deadlines and do our other work.
RV Office Space Supplies
There are a few things we’ve used in our RV bedroom office set up in order to make it more functional and to ensure we have a reliable place to work.
- RV Surge Protector (this is important to protect all your appliances while using them)
- Lap desk
- Interior surge protector/power strip (useful for splitting outlets. we like this one because it has USB and USB-c outlets, as well)
- Charging cords
- Steering wheel desk (useful if we’re sitting up front to work)
- Magnetic cell phone mount (these are nice to mount our phones to the wall instead of having them on the side of the bed)
- Chromecast (helpful if you have a second monitor or want to cast a movie to a different screen)
- Outlet charging shelf (we are considering getting this – makes it super easy to plug into the wall and then you can charge a lightweight device on top)
- Wifi extender/signal booster (this is something else we’re considering adding – it’s a very easy way to strengthen Wifi signals from a campground, which are often weak)
- Supportive back pillow (very helpful when sitting on a bed to work)
- Charging station (this one is useful for charging multiple laptops or other devices if you have a shelf or nightstand space to put it)
Off-Grid RV Power Tips for Mobile RV Office
One of the most important parts of our RV office setup is making sure we have adequate power for all of our equipment. This is also really important to ensure we have a strong Wifi signal. (All our tips for creating the best RV internet setup right here!)
As I noted above, one of our best RV office ideas is to have an RV surge protector in place to protect all your electronics, especially if you’re plugged into electric at a campground or RV park.
Here are some different reliable RV power sources we use in our camper office!
1. USB Charging
We always have one of these inexpensive cigarette lighter USB chargers (along with all the cables for our devices, of course). We like this kind with multiple ports. It is one of our best RV office ideas because it is very space effective and we can plug in multiple phones at once. Make sure you get a charger that supports at least 2.1A charging. Otherwise, in remote areas, your phone might drain battery faster than it recharges. This is helpful for a mobile office in an RV while working on the move.
We more recently got this USB car charger. We like this one because it has more ports, including a USB-C port. This way, we can also use it to charge our laptops. It also has a maximum output of 86W (instead of 54W like the other one). This means you could charge a laptop more easily while using it (instead of just maintaining the current charge). Of course, this is dependent on the amount of power your cigarette lighter will allow to pass through (some cap at 50W). These Scotch fasteners are also helpful in holding that one in place (like on a dash, for instance) if needed. (Here’s a smaller USB car charger if you prefer.)
In general, charging via the cigarette lighter generally works best for electronics that don’t require a ton of power. It’s perfect for charging cell phones while driving, our beloved kids Kindles, camera batteries, etc. We have managed to charge laptops but they tend to be pretty slow.
Note on Inverter Capacity:
Technical Jargon Alert! You may notice cigarette-lighter adapters that claim to be 300W or even stronger. That power rating may be true for the adapter’s capacity, but that does not mean that your cigarette lighter is rated to power anything that strong. Most cigarette lighter fuses are 10 or 15 Amps and most car batteries are 12V. 12*15 = 180 Watts in this case would be the maximum before blowing your fuse. But don’t worry – most cigarette lighters cap themselves at closer to 100W just to make sure you don’t blow the fuse. Still, buying a cigarette lighter inverter that’s more than 150 or 200W is not likely to make a difference in practice.
2. RV Inverter
If you are working from an RV office and want to charge something like a laptop quickly or something else that requires more power, you may find that the cigarette lighter isn’t cutting it. That’s why we installed this 2,000 watt inverter that connects directly to our car engine battery. It can then run that power to other devices while the RV is in motion. If you plan to charge electronics (and not just power tools), a “pure sine wave” inverter is a must. Even a “modified sine wave” inverter can risk the lives of all of your electronics.
For safety reasons, just make sure that you don’t break through the firewall when installing an inverter. Our particular RV is on a Ford E-350 chassis. This allowed us to run the wiring through the doorwell and the door still shuts just fine.
Our inverter also comes with an on/off switch which beeps when the engine battery’s reserves are low, so that you don’t accidentally drain the engine battery. Just make sure you notice the beeping (which we find sufficiently loud) and shut of the inverter if it starts. We did notice at one point that our inverter was constantly beeping – this was a signal to get our engine battery checked. Sure enough, ours was super old and a new $95 engine battery made a word of difference. (Many of them are only designed to live for a year.)
3. Super External RV Battery: Portable RV Office Power Bank
Charging our cellular booster, phones, and laptops only really adds up to a few hundred watts. Still, we personally decided to purchase a 2,000W inverter because it can also charge our external super battery & portable power station. This allows us to stay powered even when the engine is off through the night. We have and love this power station (similar one available on Amazon), which charges while we’re driving. (Here’s an upgraded and even more powerful one (the one Dan wants ;)). Or here’s one very powerful one that’s a smaller footprint.)
We personally also installed RV solar panels a little while back (more below). These fully charges our battery directly on sunny days. However, the inverter is still wonderful if you don’t have solar, on rainy days, or to top off the battery at the end of the day if it didn’t get a full charge via solar. With this, we’re actually able to plug our entire RV into this super battery overnight with this simple 15Amp to 30 Amp converter piece. (The newer and more expensive power station does not require the converter piece as it has a built-in 30Amp plug.) We’re then able to do everything from charge our devices to run our microwave!
4. RV Solar Panels for RV Office
Here’s everything we used to get set up with solar panels for an RV:
- Flexible Solar Panels (or here’s a flexible solar kit)
- Chloroplast for under the solar panels so they don’t overheat and wear out as fast
- Bolts to go through the pinholes in the solar panel to help secure them
- Wing nuts
- Eternabond water proof tape
- 4 power cables (or this one)
- Caulk for the hole to run the power cables to the battery
- If the battery doesn’t have a screen/reader
I hope those are some helpful ways to ensure reliable RV power sources while working from a mobile RV office!